Tom Hanks plays the skipper of the cargo ship MV Maersk Alabama that was hijacked in 2009 off the coast of Somali. This drama by Director Paul Greengrass is based upon Richard Phillips’ memoir “A Captain’s Story” and expertly covers many of the details of the piracy that were underreported at the time.
Before watching the movie I was aware of this piracy incident on the high-seas and how the standoff dramatically ended. However, I wasn’t aware of the crewmembers’ actions pre- and post-hijacking that provide viewers with the opportunity to see the terrorists’ fortunes suddenly reversed through quick-thinking American ingenuity. The crew’s ability to thwart the Somali pirates and take back their vessel gets major screen time--and deservedly so.
Hanks’ true costars in this flick aren’t so much U.S. Navy SEALs but rather a well-cast group of actors portraying the terrorists and his crewmembers. And make no mistake--another huge star of this movie is the MV Maersk Alabama herself. The backdrop of the cargo ship completely befuddles the bad guys and gets them off their game in way not seen since Bruce Willis’ character in Die Hard eye-poked terrorists throughout the Nakatomi building in 1988.
Captain Phillips is a fast-paced thriller that spends just enough time on character development to give viewers background and set the political table on 3rd World terror. If you already know the bookends to this story you’ll enjoy the less known details that weren’t excessively publicized. This is easily Tom Hanks‘ best performance since Cast Away. Minor downgrades for shaky camera shots, particularly in the Somalian camp, and for knowing how the movie will end before the opening credits. But drop anchor and go see it. Remember, they’re not here to fish. Grade: B+Rated PG-13 for sustained intense sequences of menace, some violence with bloody images, and for substance use. Running time: 2 hours, 14 minutes.